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Thomas L. Serfass, Ph.D.

Dr. Thomas Serfass

Professor and Chair
Compton Science Center 210






Ph.D., Wildlife and Fisheries Science, The Pennsylvania State University. 1994.


2007-present Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Department of Biology, Frostburg State University. Teach: Wildlife Techniques; Ecology and Management of Wildlife Populations; Mammalogy; and Conservation Biology and Reserve Design.  Since 1997 I have supervised the completion of 38 graduate students.

Current Graduate Students:

Kelly Pearce, Ph.D (at University of Maryland, College Park): Assessing the potential of the river otter (Lontra canadensis) to promote aquatic conservation in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: A unique approach for developing a long-term aquatic flagship

Emily Bricker, M.S.: Management Status of the North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) in the United States and Canada:  Assessing Management Practices and Public Perceptions of the Species

Karen Zusi, M.S: Habitat-use analysis and survey development for the Neotropical river otter (Lontra longicaudis) in Costa Rica

Kelsey Baird, M.S.: Assessing angler attitudes towards otters and piscivorous birds in Scotland

Casey Wagon, M.S.:  Factors influencing detection of carnivores at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, N.J. 

Megan Spindler, M.S.: Production, survival and habitat use of wood ducks at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, N.J.


Tom Serfass is Chair and Professor of Wildlife Ecology in the Department of Biology and Natural Resources at Frostburg State University, and Adjunct Professor at the Appalachian Laboratory – University of Maryland (College Park) Center for Environmental Science. A large portion of his research and conservation activities have focused on the design, implementation, and evaluation of wildlife restoration programs and recovering wildlife populations—particularly mesocarnioves. Tom conceived and coordinated the successful Pennsylvania River Otter (Lontra canadensis) and Fisher (Martes pennanti) Reintroduction Projects, and has authored over 40 journal, proceedings, popular articles, and book chapters dealing specifically about river otters, fishers, and wildlife reintroductions. During the past 14 years Tom has mentored the completion of 38 MS and PhD students, conducting research ranging from evaluating the fates of river otters reintroduced in western New York to assessing the natural history and conservation value (potential as flagship species) of spotted-necked otters (Lutra maculicollis) and other wildlife at Rubondo Island National Park, Lake Victoria, Tanzania. Tom is the North American Coordinator of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ Otter Specialist Group.

Note: Tom is not currently accepting new graduate students except for those with an international research interest in carnivore conservation and having funding to support those interests.     

PUBLICATIONS (2011 – present)

Serfass, T. L., J. A. Bohrman, S. S. Stevens, and J. T. Bruskotter.  2014.  Otters and anglers can share the stream! The role of social science in dissuading negative messaging about reintroduced predators.  Human Dimensions of Wildlife 19:532-544.

Peper, S. T., R. L. Peper, G. V Kollias, R. P. Brooks, S. S Stevens, and T. L. Serfass.  2014. Efficacy of two canine distemper vaccines in wild river otters (Lontra canadensis).  Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 45:520-526..

Keller, L. K., R. S. Fritz, C. M.  Zoubek,  E.  H. Kennedy, K.  A. Cronin, and T. L. Serfass.  2014.   Effects of transport on fecal glucocorticoid levels in captive-bred cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus). Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science (in press).

Reed-Smith, J, T. Serfass, T. Kihudu, and M. Mussa.  2014.  Preliminary report on the behavior of spotted-necked otter (Lutra maculicollis, Lichtenstein, 1835) living in a lentic ecosystem.  Zoo Biology (in press).

Jessica R. Brandt, J. R., A. L. Brandt, F. K. Ammer, A. L. Roca, and T. L. Serfass.  2014. Impact of Population Expansion on Genetic Diversity and Structure of River Otters (Lontra canadensis) in Central North America Journal of Heredity 105:39-47.

Stevens, S.S., B. Amulike, S. Ndaga, J. F. Organ, and T. L. Serfass. 2014. The confusion of common names: a wildlife-specific methodological challenge in cross-cultural research. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 19:191-199.

Amulike, B., S. S. Stevens, and T. L. Serfass.  2013.  Enhancing tourist opportunities to view spotted-necked otters (Lutra maculicollis) at Rubondo Island National Park: can the apriori location of latrines simplify identifying best viewing areas?  African Journal of Ecology 51:609-617.    

Brooks, R.P, and T.L. Serfass.  2013.  Wetland-riparian wildlife of the Mid-Atlantic Region.   Pages 259-268 in R.P. Brooks, and .D.H. Wardrop, Editors.  Mid-Atlantic freshwater wetlands: advances in wetlands science, management, policy, and practice.  Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., New York, New York, USA.   

Loughry, S. C.,  M. D. Triska, D. M. Fecske, and T. L. Serfass.  2012.   A direct comparison of enclosed-track plates and remote cameras in detecting fishers in North Dakota.  Canadian Field-Naturalist126:281-287.   

Just, E. H., S. S. Stevens, R. M. Spinola, and T. L. Serfass.  2012.  Detecting river otter latrines near bridges: does habitat and season influence survey success? Wildlife Biology 3:264-271.

Serfass, T. L., and S. S. Stevens.  2012.  Book review: human impacts on seals, sea lions, and sea otters:  integrating archaeology and ecology in the northeast Pacific.  The Quarterly Review of Biology 87:285.

Bagherian, A. J., D. M. Fecske, M. D. Triska, J. A. Bishop, D. J. Berezanski, S. K. Johnson, R. P. Brooks, and T. L. Serfass. 2012.  Evidence of American Martens Populating the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota.  The Prairie Naturalist 44:10-16.

Bohrman, J. A., S. S. Stevens, and T. L.Serfass.  2012.  Long-term survival and reproduction in a river otter (Lontra canadensis) with an intraperitoneal radio-transmitter.  Canadian Field-Naturalist:125:252-254.  

Brooks, R. P., T. L. Serfass, M. Triska, and L. M. Rebelo.  2011.  Ramsar Protected Wetlands of International Importance as Habitats for Otters.  IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin 29:47-63.

Hanley, Z., and T. L. Serfass.  2011.  Distribution and detection rates of a reintroduced fisher population in western Maryland.  Martes Working Group Newsletter 18(1):25-27.

Stearns, C. R., and T. L. Serfass.  2011.  The use of scales to estimate the size of the fish prey of river otters (Lontra canadensis) and other piscivores.  American Midland Naturalist 166:163-176.

Stearns, C. R., and T.L. Serfass.  2011.  Food habits and fish prey size selection of a newly colonizing population of river otters (Lontra canadensis) in eastern North Dakota.  American Midland Naturalist 165:169–184.

Stevens, S. S., E. H. Just, R. C. Cordes, R. P. Brooks, T. L. Serfass.  2011.  The influence of habitat quality on the detection of river otter (Lontra canadensis) latrines near bridges.  American Midland Naturalist 166:435-445.  

Stevens, S. S, J. F. Organ, and T. L. Serfass.  2011.  Otters as flagships: social and cultural considerations.  IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin 28:150-161.

Triska, M. D., S. C. Loughry, and T. L. Serfass.  2011. Persistence of fishers in riparian forests in North Dakota, USA following a severe flood event.  Acat Theriologica 56:367–374.

Triska, M. D., S. C. Loughry, and T. L. Serfass.  2011.  River otters use agricultural field along the Turtle River in eastern North Dakota as crossover and latrine area.  The Prairie Naturalist 43(1/2):52-55.










Last Updated on 01-17-2018 at 08:40:55 PM
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